Recommend August 2013 - (Page 49)

⏟ ⏟ Because Aruba is rarely touched by hurricanes, you can send clients there in summer and fall without grinding your teeth. onsitereview S E P T E M B E R 2 0 12 Beachside at the Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino. Aruba Marriott Resort ed wetschler My first visit to Aruba was on a FAM trip in the early 1980s. Back then there wasn’t much in the way of local tour operators or hotel spas or sports facilities, so except for one impromptu, rum-fueled, midnight water polo match in the Divi-Divi swimming pool, my colleagues and I mostly stayed put on the beach. Great weather? Absolutely. Gorgeous beaches? Bet on it. Good bartenders? Beyond good. But did we experience Aruba itself or do anything especially novel? No, because that’s just not what Aruba—or, for that, most of the Caribbean—was about. My, how this island has changed. “Nowadays [honeymooners] want activities: scuba diving, golf, hiking, snorkeling,” said Samira Platter of DTR Travel in our June issue’s Beach Blanket Bliss story, and that’s also true for a lot of people who aren’t newlyweds. No wonder tour operators in Aruba now offer underwater fish-viewing rides in a submarine, ATV tours of weird rock formations on the east side of the island, visits to caves, encounters with the rescues at the Donkey Sanctuary, and more. something’s fishy Aruba, directly connected to U.S. gateways by seven major airlines, is shaped like a fish swimming toward the southeast. Once you get away from the landscaped resorts that line much of the island’s 20-mile southwest coast, you realize that this is an arid island with stretches of terrain that seems borrowed from the moon. So forget lush rainforests and waterfalls; on the other hand, dry climate = sunny beach days. Shopping days, too, because Oranjestad, the capital, is one of the major shopping capitals of the Caribbean. What’s more, Oranjestad is so up-to-date that it’s building a 21st century tram system. Meanwhile, clean, regularly scheduled public buses offer a smart alternative to taxis all along the southwest coast. On this trip we couldn’t possibly fit in everything we wanted to do, although we did find time to explore an extraordinary World War II wreck (more on that later) and see some other neat things, some of which were easily booked in the lobby of the hotel where we were staying, the Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino. This hotel is on a prime stretch of Palm Beach, home to a string of high-rise condos and resorts (the RIU, Westin, Radisson, Hyatt Regency, etc.); farther south is Eagle Beach and several smaller resorts, including the adults-only Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts, profiled in the June issue. The Stellaris Casino is huge, but perhaps more important, so are the Marriott’s guestrooms, at 400 sq. ft. or greater, with large private balconies, electronic gadgetry, mini-fridges, and decor featuring polished dark wood, crimson sashes, a desk and comfortable chairs, and prints of tropical flora. High-season rates start at $409, but we’d recommend upgrading to a Partial Ocean View overlooking the new adults-only pool ($459) or, better yet, a Premium Ocean View ($484), with its vistas of calm green sea and endless white beach. Because Aruba is rarely touched by hurricanes, you can send clients there in summer and fall without grinding your teeth. Put them in a $634 Tradewinds Club Level room with high-floor views plus access to a V.I.P. lounge with full American breakfast, snacks, afternoon tea, and cocktails; off-season, it costs $409. august 2013 49 49-51 CB ArubaMarriott.indd 49 7/23/13 7:57 AM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend August 2013

Editor's Notes
Hotel Desk: Dan Hotels, Israel
Tour Talk: Jacada Travel
Avalon Expression
Cruising the Rivers of Southeast Asia
Girls & Guys Getaways in Las Vegas
Kimpton Takes Center Stage in San Francisco
South Africa: Bicycles, Horses & Wonderful Experiences
A French Twosome with SLH
Bogota, Colombia
Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta
Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto
Westin Grand Cayman
Grand Case Beach Club, St. Martin
Aruba Marriott Resort

Recommend August 2013